Swiss watch in­dus­try fac­ing hard­ships as the econ­omy un­winds

Pretoria News - - THE X-FILES - |

THE Swiss watch in­dus­try has sur­vived lick­ings be­fore, but Rolex, Omega and Cartier now face a com­bi­na­tion of eco­nomic punches putting them back on their heels.

The in­dus­try was just adapt­ing to the down­turn from po­lit­i­cal protests in its largest mar­ket, Hong Kong, when the coro­n­avirus out­break hit. Now, as China’s eco­nomic slow­down is set to en­gulf the rest of the world, the strong Swiss franc, surg­ing gold prices, and store clo­sures are set to sad­dle com­pa­nies like Swatch Group AG and Richemont with higher costs.

Rolex shut down all its plants in Switzer­land for at least 10 days start­ing on Tues­day. Richemont has been of­fer­ing price cuts of as much as 49 per­cent for sec­ond-hand Cartier time­pieces in a one-week spe­cial of­fer on its vin­tage re­sale site, Watchfinde­r. Watch fairs in Basel and Geneva have been can­celled. Swatch will put as much as 70 per­cent of its Swiss pro­duc­tion staff on re­duced work­ing hours by the end of the week.

The first half will prob­a­bly be the worst ever for the mod­ern lux­ury-goods in­dus­try, San­ford C Bern­stein’s Luca Solca said. That threat­ens em­ploy­ment in Swiss watch-mak­ing, which sup­ports 59 000 peo­ple and ac­counts for al­most a tenth of the coun­try’s ex­ports.

To make mat­ters worse, the in­dus­try de­pends heav­ily on work­ers liv­ing across the bor­der in France, and many of those are stay­ing home in con­tain­ment ef­forts or be­cause bor­der cross­ings have closed.

| SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI African News Agency (ANA)

AFRICAN Rain­bow Cap­i­tal In­vest­ment (ARCI) chair­per­son Pa­trice Mot­sepe at the com­pany list­ing at the Main JSE Board.

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